How Privacy-Friendly Are Business Mobile Apps?

Just how privacy-friendly are business mobile apps? The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new working methodologies. Utilising cutting-edge technologies and cloud environments, digital transformation has changed the way businesses collaborate and communicate. At the same time, delivering more added value and enhanced quality services. But in the rush to productivity have we given up some of our privacy? 

Privacy concerns are increasing

When the pandemic broke out, it forced governments to adopt strict measures to contain it. Millions of employees were forced into creating new work-from-home habits. Businesses had no choice but to adapt to this “new normal”. They provided their employees with frictionless and secure access to corporate assets.

Collaboration and communication with and between employees were enhanced. They used cloud-based platforms such as Zoom, Slack or Microsoft Teams. Apps like Asana enabled project management.

In the vast majority, employees working from home began using privately-owned devices, like laptops and/or smartphones. With smartphones penetrating every aspect of our lives, many chose to use mobile apps to communicate with colleagues and check upon their tasks.

Businesses as well as government agencies developed and pursued best practices for securing these remote connections to corporate data. Privacy, however, was a big concern. Are these business apps privacy-friendly? How are app vendors processing personal data? 

Privacy is a human right

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union calls privacy a fundamental human right, and so does the GDPR. Finally, the European Cyber Security Month (ECSM) focuses on developing the Digital Skills required for enforcing security and privacy in interconnected societies. However, privacy is not only a citizen right. Rather it is primarily the vendors’ responsibility – to design and produce apps that treat personal data respectfully and lawfully.

To this extent, many not-for-profit privacy groups, like Electronic Frontier FoundationPrivacy InternationalEuropean Digital Rights (EDRi) and Homo Digitalis, have the common purpose to protect the individual right to privacy and to help legislators understand issues related to human rights in the contemporary digital era. Additionally, they raise public awareness regarding digital rights by organizing public campaigns.

The CAP-A project

CAP-A is an EU funded project whose mission is to “harness the collective power of citizens towards addressing privacy-related issues associated with the use of mobile apps.” Through a suite of tools, they measure the community’s expectations on the mobile apps privacy friendliness. As the team behind the project mention in the portal’s home page “CAP-A is the place, where the members of the CAPrice Community work together to ask for a more privacy-friendly digital world.”

The Bora pilot for CAP-A

As part of the project and in line with the European Cyber Security Month (ECSM), the CAP-A team runs several pilots. We at Bora are happy to support this awareness-raising initiative. We are running our pilot focusing on the most popular business apps, in the exploration of the privacy behaviour of mobile apps, and to participate actively in the privacy evaluation of apps through a set of crowdsourcing activities.

The ​objective ​of the pilot is to evaluate just how privacy-friendly popular Android apps are. Also to measure the level of trust that users place on these apps. App developers will receive the results of this pilot. In doing this, we hope to foster an ecosystem of apps respecting the privacy of their users.

Detailed instructions on how to participate in the pilot and shape the future of more privacy-friendly mobile apps can be found at https://cap-a.eu/pilots/bora-pilot.pdf, while the list of apps you can evaluate is available at https://cap-a.eu/portal/#pilots/BORA/BORA_LIST.

Bora staff are firm believers of the right to privacy. Our company seeks to promote activities and initiatives seeking to raise awareness of this important issue. We would be delighted to see our friends and partners participate in this pilot. We can only thank you a lot in advance for a small piece of your time and effort in order to benefit us all.

How Privacy-Friendly Are Business Mobile Apps?

Anastasios Arampatzis

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